Bloating is a very common symptom that people often experience after eating a meal. The bloating is usually felt in the lower part of the abdomen and sometimes in the upper section. Bloating usually feels as if there is pressure being applied from the inside and people often report that they can look up to six months pregnant.
Bloating after eating is often different from the bloating experienced with menopause, pregnancy, and PMS. Bloating after eating feels gassy and is usually relieved after passing wind or burping.
This kind of bloating can be caused by certain foods. However, if it happens frequently, it can also indicate a digestive problem such as leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and general food allergies and intolerances.
Apart from bloating after eating, a common symptom of all of these conditions is chronic tiredness. This is because your digestive system is responsible for the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from the food you eat. If there is a digestive problem, its easy to become nutrient deficient and this commonly causes chronic tiredness.
So, how do you know if you are bloating because of foods that you are eating, or because you have a digestive problem? A person with a healthy digestive system will experience far less bloating, even with foods that commonly cause bloating. However, the list of foods below commonly causes bloating in many people.
Raffinose -- a sugar found in beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains. Eaten raw, these foods cause more bloating than when they are cooked.
Lactose -- a natural sugar found mainly in milk and milk products, such as cheese, cream, yoghurt and ice cream. Lactose levels are much higher in milk and non-fat milk than in cheese and yogurt. Lactose is commonly associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Fructose -- a sugar found in fruits and honey. It's also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks, fruit drinks and processed foods. Fructose is also considered to be an important contributing factor to irritable bowel syndrome for many people.
Sorbitol -- a sugar found naturally in fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes, and is also used as an artificial sweetener in many dietetic foods, and sugar-free candies and gums.
Starches -- most starches, including potatoes, corn, rice, bread, noodles, and any products made from flour produce gas as they are broken down in the large intestine.
Wheat -- in particular, wheat appears to be a major source of bloating and gas. Most people find that if they eliminate wheat and flour products, their bloating nearly always improves.
Soluble fiber -- this type of fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. It's found in oat bran, beans, peas, and most fruits.
Insoluble fiber -- this type of fibre doesn't dissolve in water and passes unchanged through the intestines and, therefore, produces less gas than soluble fiber. It is found in wheat bran and most fruit and vegetable skins.
Legumes commonly cause bloating and gas due to their complex structure of starch and protein. Soaking and cooking legumes well helps to reduce bloating.
Alison Cassar is a naturopathic practitioner and nutritionist and runs a busy clinic in Sydney, Australia. Her particular interest is chronic tiredness. Her Web site and e-book, located at http://whydoifeeltired.com, explore the many causes of tiredness as well as solutions and prevention.© 2006 Alison Cassar
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